Where can we take a winter vacation in the Pacific Northwest?
October 28, 2012 5:08 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I live in Portland, Oregon. We'd like to take a week-long vacation over Christmas, and are looking for somewhere to visit in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, BC, or western Montana. We're looking for someplace romantic-ish where we can be active and adventurous, but also curl up together to read. The rub? We'd prefer it weren't too crowded. We're willing to spend up to $150/night, though we'd prefer to pay $120 or less. Any suggestions?

Also: snow is good. Rain less so. We can get rain at home.
posted by jdroth to Travel & Transportation around Houston, WA (21 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Given that that would be off-season for the coast, you would be likely to hit your budget with no problem. Astoria's rather cute, and might be right up your alley.

As for snow though... frozen precipitation on the Oregon coast has happened from time to time, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that -- rain is a lot more likely.

You might consider a B&B in Bend or Sisters, for a combo of romance, activities and snow.
posted by drfu at 5:21 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

(I was going to suggest Seaside OR til I saw no rain. It's really lovely in the winter, tho, and cheap! I recommend The Tides at which to stay....)
posted by tristeza at 5:25 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I always recommend Boise. Great bike riding, good food and leisure, fun city, but you still have a lot of options for seclusion -- either in nature, or in VERY cheap, cozy hotel rooms. Assuming you're not looking for a "romantic resort" experience. If you are... Leavenworth WA?
posted by zvs at 6:01 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you skiers? Have you made it up to Revelstoke BC? Great skiing, and I'm betting you can find private-ish parts, it's not as pricey as Whistler and such yet.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:28 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Silver Falls state park? It might be rain, it might be snow, the falls might be frozen. It is east of salem in the foothills and gets a lot colder than the valley floor. Its close, cheap and not very crowded that time of year. I am pretty sure they have yurts and cabins on site and silverton is close by with hotels and such.
posted by bartonlong at 6:35 PM on October 28, 2012

What about renting a little cozy cabin or staying at a B&B on one of the San Juan islands in WA? It has been known to snow out that way during December/January. It won't be crowded, there will be plenty of activities if you can handle colder weather (especially hiking and fishing).

I am partial to Orcas but I think they're all pretty awesome from a romance perspective.
posted by joan_holloway at 6:40 PM on October 28, 2012

A friend of mine took the Amtrak out to Glacier National Park from PDX -- you get on the train in the evening and get off the next morning in the national park. Seems like a cool trip.
posted by elmay at 6:48 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

We like vrbo.com (Vacation Rental By Owner). You get a whole house to yourself - both romantic and private.
posted by metahawk at 7:05 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would recommend Rossland in BC. It's a charming little mountain town that features a lot of old buildings, and the place has a definite laid-back vibe. It's at the base of a skihill that isn't particularly well-known, so it's mostly locals who go skiing there in the winter. It's also quite near the border, and is only a few hours' drive north of Spokane. If you were to fly in, you would want a flight to Castlegar.

And since you would be flying into Castlegar, you could also consider Nelson, which is about the same distance from the airport. Nelson is a much bigger town than Rossland, but also preserves the old-town architecture and laid-back vibe. There's a resort right on the lake that's pretty beautiful, and there's lots of skiing (once again, aimed at locals) close by.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:32 PM on October 28, 2012

Coeur d'Alene, ID? Can't really guarantee snow, but is more likely to have it than Portland. I could be wrong, but I think it wouldn't be too crowded over Christmas as summer is their main season. The main resort in town has rooms in your price range if you are willing to get one without the greatest view. Otherwise there are several B&Bs or possibilities on VRBO.
posted by weathergal at 7:35 PM on October 28, 2012

The Flying R Ranch consists of two super cozy cabins in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, and is honestly one of the most breathtaking places I've ever seen. The town is podunk, Missoula is an hour away, but there's skiing and other outdoor adventures around. And Missoula is a pretty great town. I'd say snow is a sure thing, at least up in the moutains.
posted by Grandysaur at 7:47 PM on October 28, 2012

I want to emphatically, enthusiastically recommend Glacier National Park. You could look at the places to stay around there and see what you like; I camped, so I don't really have suggestions about that. But Glacier itself has several days' worth of stuff to enjoy, all active/outdoorsy, but it's the off-season now, so much less crowded, and there will very likely be snow. There's snow right now, according to weather.com.

I suggest Glacier in particular because it's amazingly beautiful, but also, the glaciers are melting at such a rate that this place will be different year by year until the glaciers are completely gone, which will then change the entire ecosystem and the park will never be the same. It's full of life now, but may not always be so. When I was there in the beginning of September, just the knowledge that I was seeing it, being able to enjoy it in its impermanence and incredible beauty, made it an incredible experience.

And it's only an 8-hour drive to Yellowstone and Grand Teton if you finish seeing Glacier... :)
posted by so_gracefully at 8:08 PM on October 28, 2012

Do you like hot springs? a lack of television? hippies and vegetarian meals? Breitenbush is beautiful this time of year.

Alternatively, maybe stay somewhere near a touristy place - say Sisters or Bend, then you could duck into town if the mood strikes you - but stay in a private cabin the rest of the time. Maybe somewhere like this?
posted by fieldtrip at 8:30 PM on October 28, 2012

Port Townsend is lovely and has many potential day trips around it.
posted by batmonkey at 8:40 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rent an RV and visit Steens Moutain. The place I checked would charge you about $1100 for a vehicle + mileage for the week.
posted by at at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2012

The most romantic Winter vacation I ever did was outside of Victoria BC at a place called the Brentwood Bay Spa/Hotel. It is right on the water, the rooms are beautiful, it is dead silent in winter, you can get massages on site, and the views are really nice.

I think it's more around $200/night but worth it. The only downside is the Buchart Gardens next door are dormant and freezing cold, but the hotel is warm and cozy.
posted by mathowie at 8:40 AM on October 29, 2012

When my wife and I needed to get away once, we went to the Lazy Moose Cabin in Sumpter, near Baker City, in Eastern Oregon.

The cabin itself is a nice one bedroom unit. Very cozy and comfortable. Winter time offers skiiing (at Anthony Lakes), cross country, show shoeing, snowmobiling, etc.

For the "not too crowded" part of your request, this fits. Sumpter's population is less than 200.

The deer that slept at the side of the cabin were just a bonus...
posted by Leenie at 9:55 AM on October 29, 2012

I've never done it, but I've often thought about staying in a lighthouse keeper's cottage.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:34 AM on October 29, 2012

Doe Bay. I do it almost every year. And it snows.
posted by sweltering at 3:08 PM on October 29, 2012

I live here so I'm biased, but I'm going to second KokoRyu's recommendation of Nelson or Rossland. Great skiing (Whitewater and Red Mountain respectively), cozy places to stay, and relatively inexpensive. There are hotsprings close by, and more winter outdoor activities than you can shake a stick at.

Nelson's bigger (relatively, it's still only 10k), and has more and better restaurants if that's your thing, and Rossland can be a fairytale village when the snow falls.

Feel free to memail me if you want any more information.
posted by sauril at 5:09 PM on October 29, 2012

I took a GF up to Scottish Lakes High Camp* one year, and it was very nice indeed. I think we'd gone up in February, and aside from the caretaker (a pleasant young guy) we were the only people there.

It's very primitive: wood fires and stoves, an A-frame outhouse, you have to carry everything in...but it's extremely peaceful, and is located on top of a mountain, so the views are pretty amazing.

*Note: not really in Scotland. It's located very near Steven's Pass in Western Washington.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:41 PM on October 29, 2012

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